|Gertrude Stein was born into a well-to-do, peripatetic family who lived for five years in various parts of Europe before settling in Oakland, California when Gertrude was 6. She graduated from Radcliffe, where she had an undistinguished career but became fascinated with the study of psychology under William James, then went on to study neurology at the Johns Hopkins Medical School. She dropped out (with bad grades) after a couple of years and followed her brother Leo to Paris to become part of the literary avant-garde. Possessed of awesome self-confidence and a magnetic personality, she was a celebrated patron of the arts and an intimate friend of Picasso, Matisse, Apollinaire, Cocteau, Hemingway, Fitzgerald, and many other artists and writers of the period. During World War II, she and her lifelong companion Alice B. Toklas (whom Stein referred to as her wife) left Paris for a small French village near the Swiss border, and during the German occupation of France, they were under the protection of French collaborators with the Vichy government; they seemed not so much Nazi sympathizers as woefully na?ve and stupid about politics. Gertrude Stein traveled widely in America, lecturing and writing about the oddities of her native land. Because of its general obscurity and difficulty, her work is seldom read today, but she is revered as a fearless, eccentric, and highly original pioneer of experimentation in literature.